Newtopia – Instalment #2

In Welcome to Newtopia, I introduced a rough outline of a plan for a self-sustaining community of 50 households. In this instalment I want to consider the important aspect of food production. This is considered up front, as the entire design and land requirement is dependant on our food production plans. Geographical location is also important and dictates what kind of foods can be produced. My self-sustaining community is planned for the Garden Route in South Africa.

The idea of self-sustainability, insofar as food is concerned, is to use only what we are able to produce ourselves, and bring in outside supplies only if we cannot produce it, or cannot produce it yet, eg apple trees which aren’t bearing fruit yet.

Fruit and vegetable crops, I believe, should be produced by each household. Herbs are also more suited to small individual lots. Grains, meats and fish should be produced communally. Wheat would be planted for flour, to make bread, and maize could also be easily planted. Insofar as animals are concerned, cattle for milk, butter, cheese and meat, as well as pigs and chickens. Fish that are easy to raise locally are Tilapia and African Catfish.


We would probably need salt, pepper and spices from outside. Farming implements would also have to be externally sourced. Consideration has to be given to whether we will use powered farming methods (tractors) or animal-drawn implements. We will be able to produce bio-diesel from numerous sources, so powered farming might work out more productive.

What we then need to do, is to find out how much land is required for all of these activities. A starting point would be to start with what we need. For example, if 50 households need 2 loaves of bread each per day, that is 100 loaves per day from our bakery. How much wheat is needed to produce flour for 100 loaves x 365 days ie 36500 loaves of bread? This excercise could be repeated for fruit, vegetables, milk, meat and fish.


The size of the land needed will then slowly emerge. Full production and self-sustainability will take years to achieve, and in the transition stages we will need to practice “regional shopping”, ie, source from the closest possible farmer.

An interesting experiment that I have been toying with for years is the concept of a truly Regional Restaurant. This restaurant would source produce only from within a set radius of, say 50-100km. If the product is not available within this radius we just don’t use it in our recipes. Thank goodness we have a Brewery right here in Knysna, but then again one has to consider where their barley and hops is grown!!

On this subject, a micro-brewery is a must, to produce the lubricant after a long hot days work in the fields. Until next time. Cheers !


Quotation of the Day;

Food is an important part of a balanced diet.

Frank Lebowitz (1950 – )


3 Responses

  1. I don’t know if your still checking back this far, but your right on track. Rumor and a bit more has it that there are a few “communes” still in existence which actually succeeded in self sufficiency. Love your blog. Reading it backwards was an interesting experience.

  2. I would like to see what an african catfish looks like…..I am in the US and will be setting up an aquaponics garden in one of my greenhouses this year if I can find a fish taht I like to eat enough. I can only think of a couple that I really like…..catfish and hake. The hake comes from New Zealand…..not sure if I could raise them in a tank or even get some to start out with….. I would appreciate your ideas.

  3. Hi Barbara,

    The African Catfish (Clarias gariepinus) is a perfect aquaculture species and thrives in Aquaponic systems. Hake is obviously not feasible because firstly it’s a marine species and secondly (as far as I know) it has not yet been successfully reared in RAS. You would however have to use a local catfish species.


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